What we can learn from Sweden

Posted in Something Swedish by

There is a lot we can learn from the Swedish people. In terms of equality, care for nature and way of life. Obviously, Sweden also has its flaws and shortcomings, but in general they have got it figured out quite well. Time to take a look at what we can learn from Sweden. Get ready for a post full of clichés!

Midsommar

Work / life balance

Fika

Fika, it has to be my favorite word of the past years. My goal for 2018 is clear: I want to introduce everyone outside of Sweden to fika! Because you have to admit it, what could be more fun than just take a pause every day and enjoy something tasty to eat and drink in nice company. Fika can also be me-time.

Lagom

A second Swedish buzzword that we can learn from is lagom. Lagom is the key to a happy life for me. It can not be translated literally but means as much as ‘not too much, not too little – just enough’. That moderation can be labeled as ‘boring’, but moderation and boring often make people happy. Lagom is about slow living. Turns out I already did / tried that before I heard about this term.

Want to read more about lagom? Then check out this reading tip!

6-hour working day

For the sake of clarity: the 6-hour working day is not a standard in Sweden (yet) but there is plenty of experimentation and from the first results this appears to be a win-win situation for all parties involved. Now say for yourself: during a working day of 8 to 9 hours, you can not be as efficient and concentrated all the time, right? Employees who participate in the 6-hour working day indicate that they have found a better balance between private and work. The sickness absence drops spectacularly and the feeling of happiness improves.

Work climate

Stockholm is known for its start-up scene. The working environment is Sweden is an excellent breeding ground for creative and digital companies. Spotify, Skype and Soundcloud are just a few of the companies that have their roots in Sweden.

Again I could talk about fika. But it goes much further than that: taking unpaid leave when you don’t have any regular leave over is fairly normal in Sweden. Stop working in time to get the children out of school or stopping early on Friday afternoon to drive to your summer house … not a single colleague will make a comment about it. The flexibility does apply in both directions: if there are important deadlines, everyone is expected to step up a notch. Around mid-summer, certain companies are closed for a few weeks: ‘sommarstängt’ or ‘summer closed’.

Equality male / female

Equality between man and woman is one of the pillars of Swedish society. Sweden was the first country in the world to include equality between men and women in legislation. They do not need quotas to recruit women in key positions in management committees. It is a matter of course. In addition to this equality male / female, there is also the law of Jante that says that everyone is equal and nobody should feel better than someone else. There is a lot to be said about that, enough for a separate article!

Gender neutrality

Following the equality between men and women, the concept of gender neutrality is also very common in Sweden. Parents choose to let their children play with cars as well as with dolls. Clothing brands leave the traditional paths that pink is for girls and blue for boys. They leave their children a free choice. Does the girl wants to play soccer? Fine! Does the son want a pink bike? Also fine. This way the children learn that they do not have to think in boxes and they can develop more freely. After all, they do not have to behave according to the expected standards.

Parental leave

The parents get 480 days of parental leave that they can divide between the partners, each of which must take at least 3 months. If they don’t, these 3 months will expire. This way also the fathers are absent for a few months of work and maternity leave or parental leave does not hinder the career.

This parental leave also results in the term ‘lattepappa’. These are fathers who meet with the children for a cup of coffee during their parental leave. In Sweden it is a very normal sight to see the daddy (to make the cliché image complete, with a ‘ man bun ‘) pushing the Bugaboo Donkey.

The parents can easily be absent from work for a longer period and then simply return to their old position. Moreover, it generally ensures a better bond with their children.

Respect for nature

Sweden lives closer to nature. They are surrounded by miles of forests and lakes. Even in big cities such as Stockholm or Gothenburg, green or water is never far away. They realize like no other that they have to take care of nature and they care about the environment.

Allemansrätt

The Allemansrätt or Right of Common stipulates that you can enter private land in Sweden (and also in Norway and Finland) to enjoy the free nature. You can set up your tent for a night to camp (out of sight of houses!), Walking, cycling, swimming and sailing. You can pick certain flowers, berries and mushrooms. Hunting and fishing is forbidden. In addition, you can not damage nature and disrupt the owner.

Outdoor and sun

The short winter days ensure that the Swedes have learned to fully enjoy. As soon as there is a ray of sunshine, no matter how cold it is, the Swedes go out and the terraces are full in no time. They know that vitamin D adds to their happiness level. It even goes further. Even if the weather is not that nice, they will still go out. In Sweden there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Det finns inga dåliga väder bara dåliga kläder (there is no bad weather, only bad clothes) will be the most proverbial phrase. Sometimes joking because of course they also have their belly full of changeable weather!

A lot of movement

Following the above: at every hour of the day you can see Swedish people working out: from power walking to jogging, from cross-country skiing to the ute gyms or outdoor gyms. They fully enjoy the outdoors and nature. The average Swede likes to work-out or train. Maybe a compensation for the many fikas?

Tap water

In Sweden you can hardly find bottled mineral water. Why would they bottle the nice, fresh water that comes out of the tap everywhere in plastic? A must if you are traveling to Sweden is a reusable water bottle.

That very potable tap water is filtered from the Swedish lakes. An extra good reason to live environmentally conscious: of course you do not want to contaminate your own drinking water. By drinking tap water, they also save a lot of waste.

Furthermore, they are also well aware of not wasting water. A few years ago the Swedish king proclaimed that a bath in the house should be banned because of the water wastage that goes with it.

Organic and healthy food

When I am on the road it is often not easy to find something healthy to eat. In Stockholm and in the rest of Sweden that is generally a lot easier. Everywhere you can find organic, healthy and / or vegetarian dishes. The nordic kitchen prides itself on cooking organic, seasonal and local products. Because it is tasty. And also because it is healthy and environmentally friendly.

Do not forget restaurants like Djuret in Stockholm where they try to use everything from the animal to throw away as little as possible or restaurants / department stores that also include ‘crazy vegetables’ such as crooked cucumbers in their offer.

Respect for each other

What strikes me every time in Sweden is how much respect people have for each other. That goes from small things like having respect for someone’s personal space to respecting the fact that someone else can and should have a different opinion. Leave each other in his / her value.

Get on time

7 o’clock in Sweden is really 7 o’clock and not 5 minutes later. Meetings start punctually and even if you are expected at 20h30 at a party, everyone dives up on time. It is a form of respect not to let the other person wait because time is precious. Latecomers are called  time optimists.

Standing in line

At the bus stop, in the shop, … everywhere in Sweden they are standing in line. The cliché image of a row of waiting Swedes who stand patiently in a row are real! No one complains about the long line but patiently waits his / her turn. And don’t try to pass! Nobody will say something about it, but the looks will say enough. Only when boarding the bus / metro / train this respect for each other apparently does not apply: while people are still trying to get off, they are already drumming up.

Coziness

When we hear cosiness or ‘hygge’ we immediately think of Denmark but the Swedes know something about it too and have their own word for it: mysig. In Scandinavia they are masters in cosiness. I think it’s one of their tricks to survive the long dark winters: they settle under a blanket on the sofa, light candles and enjoy a warm cup of coffee / tea / hot chocolate milk.

Also mysig: social gathering during the midsummer party or when after a walk through the snow they make a fire and do outside fika! Christmas time is also a wonderful time in Sweden where cosiness reigns supreme.

What is actually a practical thing also causes that homely feeling. As soon as you enter a Swedish home, you take off your shoes. You immediately feel at home at stocking feet. Besides the fact that you do not bring the snow and the mud into the inside, barefoot or in your socks also ensure that your feeling of happiness goes up. Try it yourself!

Design and music

I believe it is also the long cold and dark winters that make the Swedes so good in design and in music. In addition, the Swedes generally live fairly small and convenient living solutions are therefore a necessity. In combination with the ‘mysig’ factor, it goes without saying that they also try to design this nicely.

An evening around the fire is then again very inspiring to make music. Music is one of Sweden’s most important export products. Of course we think of ABBA. But also Roxette, Europe, Neneh Cherry, Emilia, The Cardigans, Alcazar, … all come from Sweden. Moreover, there are some top producers in Sweden who are also responsible for the sound of many international stars.

Can you supplement other things that we can learn from the Swedes? Can you also think of things where the Swedes could learn from other nations?

Swedish festive days for food

Posted in Something Swedish by

The Swedes are crazy about (sweet) delicacies. So much that they have created a festive day for almost all delicacies! Sometimes they invent a certain day for a delicacy, other holidays are inextricably linked to certain dishes. And of course, all those sweets are also part of their daily fika.

1 January – pizza dagen

We start the year with an international theme day. Did you know that on January 1st it is international pizza day? A theme day that the Swedes are happy to participate in. In Sweden they serve a typical colza salad with a dressing with the pizza. I myself am absolutely not a fan of this side dish but please do not tell my Swedish friends 😉

January 12 – marsipanens dag

Marzipan also got his own day.

Fettisdagen – Semla

Semla semlor, zweeds recept
40 days before Easter, the fasting period begins. The days preceding people go all the way with greasy food one last time. In Belgium, for example, we will be eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday. In Sweden they  massively eat semlor on Fettis dagen. Although the fast is followed by fewer and fewer people, the semla remains extremely popular. You can find this delicacy with almond and whipped cream between Christmas and Easter in just about every Swedish konditorie. You can find more information about these Fettis days or Fastlaggsdag and a recipe here.

3 February – Morotskakansdag

On 3 February it is the day of the carrot cake.

7 March – Punschrullens Dag

A punschrulle can best be compared with the Belgian and Dutch marrow pipes. It contains marzipan and both ends are soaked in chocolate. The Swedish version is often in green marzipan, has slightly different in taste and a different filling. The punschrullar are also called dammsugare (vacuum cleaners). You can also find them at Ikea.
These punschrulle are traditionally eaten with first advent as well.

25 March – Våffledagen

The day of the waffle was originally Our Lady’s Day (Vårfrudagen), but due to the confusion of tongues this has by coincidence become the day that just about every Swede takes out his/her waffle iron and they celebrate the day of the waffle. These are usually thin, clover-shaped waffles that they both decorate with sweet or savory (eg with salmon and sour cream).

12 April – Lakritsdagen

Be aware: in Sweden, as in the Netherlands, they like salty liquorice. At Max they even sell ice creams with liquorice and every year there is a big lakrits fair in Stockholm.

11 mei – Chokladbollens dag

Zweedse chocoladeballetjes - chokladbollar
Chocolate balls are very easy to make. It is a popular snack and so they got their own festive day. If you want to make Swedish chocolate balls on May 11 (or any other day), you can find an easy and delicious recipe.

27 May – Muffin dagen

Muffins are not really Swedish and yet they got their own theme day. The blueberries that you often find in muffins are in abundance in Sweden and that can of course explain this day.

6 June – Sillens dag

The Swedish national holiday is also the day of the herring. Together with salmon, perhaps the most eaten fish species in Sweden. Surströmning also has its own day, in early August.

August 9 – Rulltårtans Dag

A holiday for the rolled cake. Why not?!

Kräftskivan

In the second half of August just about every Swede holds a lobster party. The crayfish are served en masse and the Swedes go all the way with the decoration: flags, little bibs with lobsters, … Also the drink Aquavit can not be missed during the kräftskiva.

August 23 – Kötbullens Dag

The famous Swedish balls of course also have their spot in the list of theme days for food.

3 September – Svampens Dag

The day of the mushrooms.

September 28 – Kebabens Day

The day of the kebab. Logical in a country where the kebabs and the hot dog stands are part of the street scene.

1 October – Kaffedagen

Every day is coffee day in Sweden. Yet they also have a real day of coffee. Sweden are among the front runners in terms of coffee drinking. I think that only the Finns drink more cups of coffee per person per day.

4 October – Kanelbullens Dag

Kanelbullar
This will be the most popular theme day in Sweden. It was the first day for food that I became acquainted with. What many do not even know anymore is that this is actually a commercial day. The whole story behind the canel day and a delicious recipe can be found here.

6 October – Gräddtårtans Dag

Whipped cream cake.

October 14 – Räkmackans Dag

A day for a sandwich with shrimps, yes, I do not make it up. In Sweden, the shrimps are pind and not gray like in Belgium (North sea). In the beginning I did not like it, but apparently I learned to eat them because now I’m not saying no to a räkmacka anymore. I always do prefer the gray North Sea shrimp!

November 7 – Kladdkakans Dag

The name kladdkaka makes every Dutch-speaking frown. Kladdkaka is Swedish for mud cake. It is a delicious chocolate cake. Even children can bake it! I often replace the butter with yogurt and leave out a portion of sugar to make it a little healthier. This is the kind of cake that you can bake quickly if you fancy something tasty. The recipe for kladdkaka can be found here.

November 11 – Chokladens Dag

That international women’s day coincides with the day of chocolate can not be a coincidence.

November 14 – Ostkakans Dag

Day of the cheesecake!

22 November – Wienerbrödets Dag

And also a day for wiener bread.

December 1 – Glöggens Dag

The Swedish mulled wine got its theme day at the beginning of the real winter season.

9 december – Pepparkakans Dag

Pepparkakor (2)

Delicious pepparkakor or ginger cookies you can make and eat especially in the run up to Christmas. Preferably in combination with some glögg. The cookies are so tasty that they are baked and eaten all year round. You will also find ready-to-eat dough and the cookies at Ikea.

December 13 – Lussekatter

On 13 December the tradition wants the children to awaken their parents with breakfast in bed. The saffron rolls or lussekatter should not be missing here.

December 18 – Kakans dag

Day of the cookies. Because there were no other days where they eat cookies 😉

Julbord

To complete the year, the Christmas buffet can not be missed in this overview.

Have I forgotten another day? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Staying at Hotel Riverton in Gothenburg

Posted in Gothenburg by

When I went to Gothenburg in December to enjoy the Christmas spirit, I stayed at Hotel Riverton. This hotel is located near the Göta River and within walking distance of Gothenburg Station. The rooms are spacious, there is a wellness area and the reception staff were very friendly. I would love to go back there!

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (4)

View on the Göta

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (2)

My room was on the 10th floor and looked out over the city and the water. I like rooms with a nice view! The room was spacious and because of the glass wall between the sleeping area and the bathroom, the room seemed even more spacious. No worries, you could close an extra curtain in case you wanted some extra privacy.

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (5)

The beds were lovely! In the information folder I read that these beds are made especially for Hotel Riverton. You can also buy the pillows. I must say, I did considered this for a moment. I do not think I’ve slept on such a blissful pillows many times before! In the room you also find a mini bar, a bathrobe with slippers and products from Rituals.

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (6) Hotel Riverton Göteborg (7)

Breakfast

Breakfast is served on the second floor. Here you have a view of the Göta river. The breakfast buffet is quite extensive with a hot buffet as well. There was also smoked salmon and pancakes! Personally, I like the breakfasts in Sweden because they usually have blueberry juice. I can always use an extra portion of vitamins!

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (3)

Restaurant View is located on the 12th floor. If you want to dine here, it is best to reserve a table in advance. I had not thought about that myself. So I have to go back to have dinner at View 😉

Wellness

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (8)

On the ground floor you can use the sauna and a hot tub. Great to relax after a day in the city! I went downstairs in bathrobe but you could also use the changing rooms. You can contact the reception for extra towels. Use of swimming suits is mandatory. When I was in the wellness area, it was very calm.

Hotel Riverton Göteborg (1)

App Hotel Riverton

Hotel Riverton also has its own app that allows you to easily plan your city trip to Gothenburg. Once on the spot, you can use the app to navigate from one place to another. There are also tips in the app about sightseeing, shopping, restaurants, …

Thanks to Hotel Riverton